Did you know that “La Marseillaise”, France’s national anthem, was actually composed in Strasbourg in 1792, not in Marseilles as we might assume? It was in fact created at the request of the mayor of Strasbourg who was looking for a patriotic, motivating song ‘”to rally our soldiers from all over to defend their homeland that is under threat”
Originally entitled ‘Chant de guerre de l’armeé du Rhin’ (War Song of the Army of the Rhine), it was renamed La Marseillaise because of its popularity with volunteer soldiers from Marseilles.
Ironically, this patriotic and passionate song adopted by the Revolution was written in one night by staunch royalist Rouget de Lisle!
Below is the English translation, a little less peaceful than our British National Anthem, wouldn’t you say?
Onwards children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!
Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!
This horde of slaves, traitors, plotting kings,
What do they want?
For whom these vile shackles,
These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Frenchmen, for us, oh! what an insult!
What emotions that must excite!
It is us that they dare to consider
Returning to ancient slavery!
What! These foreign troops
Would make laws in our home!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would bring down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brows would bend beneath the yoke!
Vile despots would become
The masters of our fate!
Tremble, tyrants! and you, traitors,
The disgrace of all groups,
Tremble! Your parricidal plans
Will finally pay the price! (repeat)
Everyone is a soldier to fight you,
If they fall, our young heros,
France will make more,
Ready to battle you!
Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Bear or hold back your blows!
Spare these sad victims,
Regretfully arming against us. (repeat)
But not these bloodthirsty despots,
But not these accomplices of Bouillé,
All of these animals who, without pity,
Tear their mother’s breast to pieces!
Sacred love of France,
Lead, support our avenging arms!
Liberty, beloved Liberty,
Fight with your defenders! (repeat)
Under our flags, let victory
Hasten to your manly tones!
May your dying enemies
See your triumph and our glory!
We will enter the pit
When our elders are no longer there;
There, we will find their dust
And the traces of their virtues. (repeat)
Much less eager to outlive them
Than to share their casket,
We will have the sublime pride
Of avenging them or following them!
On the other hand, the British national anthem, it is said, was in fact written by Jean-Baptiste de Lully, Italian-born French composer, and first sung by a French girls’ school to celebrate…….. the healing of King Louis XIV’s haemorrhoids!
FIND OUT MORE…